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The Rise of University Language Centres

It is by now accepted that higher education students, regardless of their disciplinary background, need practical language competences to prepare them for academic and professional mobility and to face the challenges of the global workplace. Non-specialist language students increasingly seek the opportunity to study a language (often more than one) alongside their major areas of study. Most graduates who are seeking employment - even if they do not leave or wish to leave their own country - know that all workplaces have become global. As a result, the number of non-specialist language students in tertiary education is growing substantially (Worton 2009; European Confederation of Language Centres in Higher Education 2013).

But though language teaching programmes are urgently needed, the resources available to support them are not always available. Funding for tertiary education continues to drop while the number of students rises. Providing language teaching on the scale that is required becomes a challenge. The scope and scale of the new demands for language learning have influenced and often profoundly altered the structure of modern foreign language provision in higher education. The development of the university language centre model, which has happened all over the world, is an obvious response to the new demands. Although of comparatively recent origin, the number of language centres has grown considerably and is expected to grow further in the twenty-first century.

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